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Archive: Report to the IHEDN

The time has come for Africa to seize control of its security agenda and drive hard for peace on the mother continent.
Committee 3`s Presentation
to the
Plenary Session of the 3rd FICA[1]
Held at the IHEDN, Paris, June 2002
 
Presentation delivered by
            Mrs Kakena Nangula[2]
            Mr Leon Engelbrecht[3]
            Colonel Felix Tissou Hessou[4]
Additional input by Brigadier Kip Sitieney[5] and Colonel Thapelo Daps Ramoleko[6]
 
 
Introduction
 
The time has come for Africa to seize control of its security agenda and drive hard for peace on the mother continent. Despite increasing focus on this aspect of Africa`s re-awakening, the continent`s political and security establishments have not yet developed a comprehensive plan to create the conditions all agree are essential for growth and development.
 
Conflict prediction and prevention
 
In Africa we often face a contradiction. During a crisis political leaders and security force commanders often complain of having too little intelligence at their disposal. As a result they often postpone decision making in the hope that more information will become available. But crises are best nipped in the bud before they can become intractable problems.
 
How can this contradiction best be resolved?
 
Increasingly the tone of the peace and security debate is turning to conflict forecasting and prevention. This is much less costly than the alternatives. Armed conflicts do not spring from nowhere. They give warning and take time to develop. This means they can be predicted and events can be tracked.
In this regard the General Intelligence Directorate[7] of the French Department of the Interior and the early warning structures of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) provide useful role models. General Intelligence is, among other things, tasked with predicting popular trends in this country (France) and providing the French government with advance warning of looming discontent, especially that associated with violence. ECOWAS, in turn, is in the process of establishing a monitoring system throughout its membership to advise the ECOWAS leadership of pending trouble and insurgency in any one member state. Once fully operational, it will allow ECOWAS to respond to crisis faster by earlier mobilising its ECOMOG force. Its political structures will also be able to make decisions faster and on the basis of more complete information. Both examples are worthy of closer study and implementation.
 
This silver cloud does have a dark lining. In most of Africa the intelligence and police establishments are held in low regard and no doubt the suggestion made will provoke much suspicion and mistrust. Security sector transformation is therefore essential. The German domestic intelligence agency, which operates on a very short leash as a result of the outrages committed by its Nazi-era predecessor, is called Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, or BfV in German. Its name already suggests to its employees that their prime function is the protection of that nation`s basic law: not any one man, woman, tribe, business interest or government institution. It is the constitution that provides democratic government institutions with their legitimacy and every citizen with his or her basic human rights.
 
Such a mandate should not only apply to every intelligence agent, but every soldier, gendarme and police officer at all times, everywhere.
 
Policing conflict
 
We should also revisit who should deal with many African conflicts and potential conflicts. Police should rightly deal with many African conflicts. But they are often too few in numbers and too poorly trained and equipped to deal with violent discontent. So the soldiers are called out. They are usually even less able or equipped to deal with an angry public than the police. Unpreparedness leads to rashness. Rashness leads to shootings and shootings creates new martyrs and grudges. What could easily have been dealt with by a properly equipped, trained and psychologically prepared paramilitary or "mounted" police or Gendarmerie now becomes a new insurgency or grounds for a coup. As Gendarmerie colonel Claude Vicaire indicated, such troops have to be trained to resist the impulse to inflict reprisal violence on a crowd. They must be able to unflinchingly absorb whatever verbal abuse, stones and other missiles are hurled their way – until given the order to collectively respond. To quote Vicaire again, soldier think in terms of "own forces" and "enemy." Law enforcers may never think of their own populations as the enemy.       
 
At the national, sub-regional and regional basis countries should establish, equip and train mobile police units. These should be able to deploy to any part of the national territory or even abroad at short notice. The military should be roped in to provide the necessary combat service support and service support (logistics). Once established, they should be routinely included in national and sub-regional peacekeeping exercises and in all relevant standard operating procedures. A peacekeeping force including 1,000 Gendarmes and 200 soldiers will arguably be more effective in any situation other than World War Three than a force constituted the other way around. 
 
This will free the military to concentrate on high intensity operations such as peace enforcement, intervention and conventional combat.                 
 
 
Conclusion
 
Lecture presentations and discussion on the subject of African peace and security over the last two weeks here at the IHEDN serve to confirm the urgent need for the reinforcement/strengthening of new mechanisms at various levels for the effective forecasting, evaluation, prevention, intervention in- and management of crises and conflict.
 
It is obvious, however, that such initiatives or mechanisms should not be ends in themselves but means towards the goal of lasting peace and sustainable economic development. They should therefore be set in a wider context and framework of integrated socio-economic development, preferable at sub-regional levels, determined by African countries themselves and supported by a broad range of external partners truly concerned with Africa`s development.             
 
 
ENDS
 
 
The IHEDN: An example to follow?
 
 
The French National Higher Institute for Defence Studies (IHEDN) held its 3rd Focus on the Continent Africa (FICA) forum at the renowned Ecole Militaire (Military Academy) in central Paris from May 30 to June 14, 2002. The topic of this year`s edition was the role of regional and sub-regional organisations in conflict prevention and forecasting.  
 
France`s interest in Africa stems from it being a former colonial power that is still actively involved in African affairs and maintains sizeable garrisons[i] in several countries as well on offshore islands such as La Reunion and Mayotte.[ii] Although French officials complain about the cost of maintaining these there appears to be no intention at the military level to scale them back further[iii] or withdraw from the continent.       
 
 
Selection
 
Attendance is at the invitation of the French government. This year`s edition was attended by 95 delegates, between one and three a country, made up in almost equal numbers of serving senior/general/flag officers, foreign affairs and defence officials. There was also a small group of academics and civil society representatives, including two journalists.
 
Venue
 
King Louis XV established the Ecole Militaire in 1752 as an academy to train his officers. (It should not be confused with the Special Military School established by Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte at Saint Cyr – near Versailles, southwest of Paris – to train officer cadets.) The Champ de Mars, linking the Ecole with the Seine River and currently a park and home to the Eiffel Tower, was its training area and parade ground. At the time smallholders held the surrounding area. The facility may have been used in its original function as recently as World War Two. However, during the German occupation all French military forces had to depart Paris for the "unoccupied zone" in the south. The school was used as a garrison and some fighting took place outside its gates during the liberation of the city in August 1944. The buildings are still in use by the French military today and house a number of institutes and schools, including the IHEDN.        
 
The IHEDN is located in the former Artillery Building of the Ecole Militaire. Peculiarly, although headed by a military officer, the institute answers to the Prime Minister`s office. It was established in 1936 to stimulate debate around matters of national defence, a mandate now viewed as even more important since the abolition of conscription. The IHEDN annually holds a series of regional as well as a national conference on defence bringing together representatives of civil society, politicians, businessmen, government officials and serving officers. FICA forms part of the institute`s international outreach programme.      
 
 
Copycat
 
The IHEDN is an institution that may well be worth copying. The majority of South Africans no longer have direct contact with the military or with defence issues – which is also poorly covered by the media. Yet there is arguably no area where public understanding and informed debate is more important. There is very little debate in the community and outside defence and some academic circles there is little discussion on what are the appropriate roles for the defence force. There are even fewer debates on what the public is prepared to pay for defence.
 
A similar, local, institution can stimulate that debate and keep the public engaged in defence issues as well as build links with the military will be a most welcome development.
   
 
 
Report on the proceedings of the 3rd Focus on the Continent Africa of the French National Higher Institute for Defence Studies (IHEDN) in Paris, May 30 to June 14, 2002.
 
                                                                                                                       
By Leon Engelbrecht
September 10, 2002
 
 
Annexures
 
Annexure A: List of Attendees
Annexure B: IHEDN Information Leaflet: Extracts
Annexure C: Committee 3`s Report to the Plenary of FICA III
Annexure D: FICA III Programme
 
Introduction
 
The French National Higher Institute for Defence Studies (IHEDN) held its 3rd Focus on the Continent Africa (FICA III) forum at the renowned Ecole Militaire (Military Academy) in central Paris from May 30 to June 14, 2002. The topic of this year`s edition was "Preventing and forecasting crises in Africa. The role of national, regional and international organisations?" IHEDN head of the International Affairs Department, Phillipe Cocquebert said the 95 African participants who attended the two-week conference made this the best-attended event to date.            
 
This report will seek to capture the author`s experience of FICA III and his stay in Paris as well as draw lessons from these and provide advice to future South African participants. As will be seen below, the programme was not intensive and provided participants with much free time during which they were left to their own devices. Most used the opportunity to visit the sights of Paris and experience the city. The organisers also arranged a busy social programme for participants and lunches at the Pavillion Joffre (the Ecole`s mess) can only be described as leisurely.
 
The report will therefore focus on the selection of participants, preparations they should make before going, what they can expect on arrival, the format of the 2002 forum and the social activities arranged. The author will also share some lessons learned and make a few recommendations.
 
But first, a brief note on France`s link with Africa. France was a leading colonial power in Africa. It is still actively involved in African affairs and maintains sizeable garrisons[iv] in several countries as well on offshore islands such as La Reunion and Mayotte.[v] Although French officials complain about the cost of maintaining these there appears to be no intention to scale them back further[vi] or withdraw from the continent.       
 
Selection
 
Attendance is at the invitation of the French government. This year`s edition was attended by 95 delegates, between one and three a country, made up in almost equal numbers of serving senior/general/flag officers, foreign affairs and defence officials. There was also a small group of academics and civil society representatives, including two journalists. See Annexure A for a list of attendees.  
 
An entry requirement set by the IHEDN was that military participants be Staff Course qualified. The majority of officers attending were ranked colonel, brigadier-general or equivalent.   
 
Three South Africans were invited this year. These contrasts well with most other countries that were represented by two participants and some that only had one representative. Virtually every country on the continent, barring Sierra Leone, Liberia, Sudan and Libya were present. Of the other two South Africans invited, only one attended, Savesh Pather, a deputy director of defence logistics planning in the Defence Secretariat. Lindiwe Zulu, the Department of Foreign Affairs` director for West and Central Africa did not arrive.
 
Preparation
 
Participants are guests of the French government and are well provided for. The French government provides a return air ticket and an information booklet on the forum via the Defence Advisor`s Office (DAO). Those without official passports are required to apply for a visa through the French Consulate General in Johannesburg. Official and diplomatic passport holders are assisted at the embassy.   
 
According to the booklet, participants (auditeurs in French) should arrange for their embassies to fetch them from the airport and deliver them to their hotels. The South African embassy in Paris does not do this, although most other African embassies (Kenya, Burundi, etc.) do. South Africans are advised to take an Air France bus from the airport to the nearest depot to their hotel and complete the distance on foot. Pedestrians carrying luggage are a common sight in Paris. In this instance the depot was across the road from the hotel in Montparnasse where most participants were quartered. The ticket (11 euro in 2002) can be bought on the bus. Alternatives are the RER train to Paris and then the Metro (underground/tube train) or a taxi. The cost of the latter is prohibitive and the former can be unpleasant with luggage to last for two weeks. Take at least 100 euro in cash with you to cover initial expenses. A stipend, sizeable in Rand, from the IHEDN will offset this expense and cover the rest of the stay. Remember that an euro will generally buy the same as a Rand. Therefore, a single can of Coke costs around 3.50 euro (R35 in June 2002).
 
Also, the booklet can be more descriptive in what clothing to pack. There are several formal functions that require participants to dress appropriately (evening suit/Dress 1). Also take into account the season. June is summer in Paris and temperatures can soar into the 30`s. Casual and smart casual clothes are also a must – including sandals and shorts. 
 
See Annexure B for extracts from the booklet.
 
Arrival and hotel
 
Air France offered a pleasant flying experience and good food as well as drink. France`s premier airport, Charles de Gaulle, located at Roissy, north of Paris, however, is a disgrace. It`s halls are badly laid out, they are filthy and smelly and signage is generally only in French. At the time of our arrival (0600 SA and Paris-time) help kiosks were closed and the only foreign exchange outlet open charged an outrageous 9,5% commission on changing traveler`s cheques to cash.       
 
This year`s participants were accommodated at the four-star Meridien Montparnasse and the three-star Mercure Montparnasse. Those quartered at the latter included participants from Gambia, Kenya, Morocco, South Africa and Tunisia. Montparnasse is regarded as an "arty" part of Paris and Picasso lived there for a while. The area is crowded with restaurants, department stores (INNO, Darty), theatres, supermarkets (Franprix) and hotels.     
 
Venue
 
King Louis XV established the Ecole Militaire in 1752 as an academy to train his officers. (It should not be confused with the Special Military School established by Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte at Saint Cyr – near Versailles, southwest of Paris – to train officer cadets.) The Champ de Mars, linking the Ecole with the Seine River and currently a park and home to the Eiffel Tower, was its training area and parade ground. At the time smallholders held the surrounding area. The facility may have been used in its original function as recently as World War Two. However, during the German occupation all French military forces had to depart Paris for the "unoccupied zone" in the south. The school was used as a garrison and some fighting took place outside its gates during the liberation of the city in August 1944. The buildings are still in use by the French military today and house a number of institutes and schools, including the IHEDN.        
 
The IHEDN is located in the former Artillery Building of the Ecole Militaire. Peculiarly, although headed by a military officer, the institute answers to the Prime Minister`s office. It was established in 1936 to stimulate debate around matters of national defence, a mandate now viewed as even more important since the abolition of conscription. The IHEDN annually holds a series of regional as well as a national conference on defence bringing together representatives of civil society, politicians, businessmen, government officials and serving officers. FICA forms part of the institute`s international outreach programme.      
 
Curriculum and format 
 
The format consisted of a series of lectures in the morning and afternoon over a two-week period to participants with smaller committee meetings to discuss lecture content in between. In all, there were six committees, each about 10-15 strong and including a careful mix of Franco-, Luso- and Anglophone Africans. Each committee would have an IHEDN facilitator (generally not an employee but a respected outsider familiar with the organisation) to assist and guide deliberations. In addition, each contained a number of French officers representing the Army, Air Force, Navy and Gendarmerie Nationale. (The GN is part of the Department of Defence and fulfills a function performed by the Commandos as well as the SA Police Service in South Africa. They are augmented in the police and public order role by the Police Nationale, which forms part of the Home Affairs ministry along with the General Affairs -- domestic intelligence – department.)   
 
The lectures were divided into several modules. Module 1 dealt with factors causing insecurity and instability in Africa. Module 2 addressed the international players in African crises and Module 3 crisis management and prevention by Africans themselves.   
 
On the final morning of the forum, each committee was expected to present a report to the plenary on what it thought was the role of national, regional and international organisations in preventing and forecasting crises in Africa. See Annexure C for a copy of Committee 3`s report.
 
See Annexure D for a copy of the original programme. Do note that it did change somewhat due to the cancellation of the trip to Dakar, Senegal and the substitution of some speakers.
 
Extra curricular activities
 
Extra curricular activities fell into three broad categories. Firstly, there were pure cultural experiences such as a trip to the horse museum at Chantilly, a visit to the Louvre Museum and a dinner show at the Moulin Rouge. Secondly, there were FICA-related visits to the Groupe Mobile de Gendarmerie Nationale (The GN`s Mobile Group – a rapidly deployable public order police force that includes the antiterrorist task force, the Groupe dIntervention de Gendarmerie Nationale (GIGN). Lastly there was a formal reception and a number of cocktails to welcome and send-off participants.  
 
Lessons learnt
 
Value of FICA
 
FICA is a networking and intellectual/ideas cross-pollination opportunity bar-none. For that reason alone it is worth attending. What raises its value even more is the opportunity it presents to sell our country, NEPAD and the African Union. However, some concerns can be mentioned. First, the programme is set by the IHEDN to suit its purposes. The issues at hand are therefore not necessarily the most topical from an African point of view. A similar concern may be raised over time allocations. A third worry concerns the calibre and background of some lecturers at FICA III. Few were African/African-based. While lecturers in Europe may be more detached and objective in approach, their location also leaves them vulnerable to ignorance and misperception. FICA III participants often vigorously engaged lecturers regarding statements motivated by these failings.              
 
Value of the IHEDN
 
The IHEDN plays a valuable role in French society. There is nothing comparable in South Africa and it is suggested that the example be copied. The majority of South Africans no longer have direct contact with the military or with defence issues – which are also poorly covered by the media. Yet there is arguably no area where public understanding and informed debate is more important. A similar, local, institution can stimulate that debate and keep the public engaged in defence issues as well as build links with the military will be a most welcome development.
   
 
Recommendations
 
 
Who should go?
 
We should send as many delegates as often as we can, the more so as France pays for everything. Classes of participants who should be considered are:
n                  Journalists, Members of Parliament (especially the Portfolio Committee on Defence) and other military opinion makers,
n                  Reserve component officers from all services and backgrounds (as they are more inclined to speak their minds while at the IHEDN and more likely to report back once home and are better able to engage politicians and the media),   
n                  Operational commanders and staff officers (Chief Joint Operations, 43 and 46 SA Brigades),
n                  The commandants and staff of training institutions (such as the SA Army, Air Force and Navy Gymnasiums) and formations (such as the Army Training Formation), and
n                  Lecturers and researchers in defence academia (such as CEMIS, the Military Academy, the DRC, etc.          
 
What should they do?
 
FICA is a good forum to promote not only the South African experience, but also its foreign policy objectives as encapsulated in the African Union (AU) and NEPAD. On a more practical level, South Africans must seize the opportunity to learn more about their fellow Africans as well as their hosts. Particular attention can be given to disparities between words (official positions) and actions (reality) and the extent as well as causes of the misunderstandings which often plague relations between Europe and Africa on the one hand and between Africans on the other.  
 
 
Final thought
 
 
Paris and FICA III was a wonderful learning opportunity and I used the opportunity as best I could to explain NEPAD and the role the military could play in support of the AU. It is a chance I recommend to any serious African student or development proponent. Enjoy!
 
 
 
 
 
 
(Leon Engelbrecht)
FICA III Participant
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


[1] Each of the six committees FICA participants were divided into had to make a presentation to the final plenary session of the conference on the topic of discussion, namely the role of regional and sub-regional organisations in conflict prevention and forecasting. Taking advice from a facilitator, committee 3 deviated from the norm and concentrated on providing its proposed solutions to two problems it encountered in formulating an answer to the question under discussion.  
[2] Director: North America, Australia, New Zealand and Japan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Information and Broadcasting, Republic of Namibia and the chairwoman of Committee 3. 
[3] Journalist, South Africa.
[4] Directeur de Cabinet, Ministre de la Defense Nationale, Republique du Benin.
[5] Commandant, Kenya Staff College, Kenyan Defence Force, Republic of Kenya. 
[6] Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff Personnel, Botswana Defence Force, Republic of Botswana.
[7] Similar to South Africa`s National Intelligence Agency


[i] La Reunion and Mayotte 4,200, Chad 900, Djibouti 3,200, Gabon 750, Ivory Cost 680 and Senegal 1,170. Source: International Institute for Strategic Studies, Military Balance 2001/2.  
[ii] Both islands are regarded as overseas districts of France. It is interesting to note that many islands off Africa are still European possessions.   
[iii] In recent years France has closed its base in the Central African Republic and has drastically trimmed the size of its garrisons elsewhere to reflect a drop in manpower with the phasing-out of conscription.
[iv] La Reunion and Mayotte 4,200, Chad 900, Djibouti 3,200, Gabon 750, Ivory Cost 680 and Senegal 1,170. Source: International Institute for Strategic Studies, Military Balance 2001/2.  
[v] Both islands are regarded as overseas districts of France. It is interesting to note that many islands off Africa are still European possessions.   
[vi] In recent years France has closed its base in the Central African Republic and has drastically trimmed the size of its garrisons elsewhere to reflect a drop in manpower with the phasing-out of conscription.
 
....